February 21, 2009 in Sports

Zags ride Waves to WCC title

By The Spokesman-Review

Five minutes into the game, all five Gonzaga starters had scored. Seven minutes in, the Bulldogs’ lead was double figures. Seventeen minutes in, Gonzaga was up by 20.

The 17th-ranked Bulldogs took care of Pepperdine early, opening up a 23-point halftime lead and coasting to a 92-58 West Coast Conference men’s basketball victory Saturday in front of 6,000 at the McCarthey Athletic Center.

Gonzaga (21-5, 12-0 WCC) secured an outright WCC title for the eighth time in nine years. The Bulldogs shared the crown in 2002. Gonzaga, which visits Santa Clara and San Diego next week, is two wins from its third unbeaten conference season in six years.

Senior forward Josh Heytvelt overpowered the Waves inside, pouring in 16 of his career-high 28 points in the first half. Junior guard Matt Bouldin also had 16 in the first half as GU made 51.5 percent of its shots en route to a 48-25 lead.

The Waves had field-goal droughts of 5 minutes, 5:15 and 3:40 as Gonzaga stretched out its lead. Pepperdine committed 12 turnovers and shot just 27.6 percent (8 of 29) in the first half.

Gonzaga made its first six shots – three by Heytvelt – in the second half. Two more field goals by Heytvelt and Jeremy Pargo’s steal and dunk hiked Gonzaga’s lead to 66-34.

Sophomore forward Austin Daye appeared to sprain his left ankle early in the second half, but he returned about five minutes later. Seconds after checking in, Daye forced a turnover on a Pepperdine inbounds pass.

Heytvelt established a new career high when he took a feed from Daye for a layup with 8 minutes remaining, giving GU a 33-point advantage.

Gonzaga had a 58-24 edge in points in the paint. The Bulldogs had just two turnovers in the first half and eight for the game, their lowest total in five games.

The Waves (8-20, 5-7) were led by Keion Bell’s 17 points.

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